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Schwartz, F. (1981). Psychic Structure. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:61-72.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:61-72

Psychic Structure

Fred Schwartz

SUMMARY

An attempt has been made to define psychic structure in strictly psychological terms. The concept of psychic structure refers to enduring aspects of the personality and to means-end functions that do not have to be created de novo each time one is faced with a similar situation. A psychic structure is a functional organization that generates a range of meaningful contents. Structures are categorical in nature and display relative functional equivalence. The above formulation provides a place for meaning in the theory and distinguishes structured functions from structured contents. The latter are the end product of a behavioural sequence and not centres of action. In this analysis, percepts, thoughts, images, wishes, fantasies, affects and internal objects are contents, not dynamic systems that make things happen. Only people make things happen, employing operational systems as tools of adaptation. Structure formation transforms temporal sequences into the units of experience and action. The spatialization of temporal order fosters the treatment of mental processes as if they occupied space in the mind as a place. This error accounts for the ready confounding of structure and content. The present analysis accepts the traditional definition of psychic structure in terms of function and organization, but without recourse to a physicalistic theory of energy and force. The above analysis was applied to a number of special problems in the theory of structure. Consideration was also given to the concept's range of application, systemic relevance and heuristic value.

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